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Chinese outbound direct investment to rebound to US$100B in H2, EY says

Chinese outbound foreign direct investment will develop stably and is expected to reach around US$100 billion in the second half, said Loletta Chow, partner at EY and global leader of the firm's China Overseas Investment Network.

Companies in China spent a record high of US$183.2 billion abroad in 2016, including US$170.1 billion of nonfinancial outbound direct investments, according to China's Ministry of Commerce. However, China began to tighten regulations on outbound investments since late 2016 amid falling foreign exchange reserves and a depreciating yuan.

In the first half of 2017, China recorded 331.1 billion yuan of nonfinancial outbound direct investments, a 42.9% drop from the year-ago period.

Chow said that in late 2016 and earlier this year, companies held a wait-and-see attitude on how Chinese authorities would implement new regulations, and it took time for them to digest new regulations.

"We do not see a further declining trend [of Chinese companies' overseas investments]," Chow said, adding that an exceptionally large deal could result in changes to the final total.

"The Chinese government's policies [on overseas investments] have become relatively clearer [to companies] and we have seen some Chinese companies started pursuing new deals in recent months," Chow told S&P Global Market Intelligence.

A Dec. 6, 2016, joint press release from China's National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, the People's Bank of China and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said the government supports authentic and compliant overseas investments, but asked companies to be prudent to avoid "irrational" investments in the real estate market, hotels, cinema complexes, the entertainment industry and sports clubs.

Chinese authorities also said there could be potential risks if Chinese companies make overseas investments in sectors outside of their core businesses.

As of Aug. 9, US$1 was equivalent to 6.68 Chinese yuan.